For most of us, the only association we make between a plastic shower curtain and death is the memorable scene with Janet Leigh in the shower right before she meets a very bad end in the movie Psycho.
However, reports U.S. News and World Report, an environmental advocacy group is calling for the phase-out of all shower curtains and other products made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which it says can emit a number of harmful materials such as lead and phthalates (the chemicals that give plastic its flexibility) into the bathroom or elsewhere in the home.
The environmental group cited a small study indicating that the substances can be released, the magazine reports, but a previous study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had also found that plastic shower curtains containing PVC could emit toxic substances into the air.
Many major retailers have, or are in the process of, eliminating plastic products made with PVC, U.S. News and World Report says. IKEA hasn't sold shower curtains with PVC for more than a decade, and stores such as Target, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Bed, Bath and Beyond are in the process of replacing PVC products with safer ones.